Building Emotional Resilience – Create a Thicker Skin

Emotional Resilience

Why Write about Emotional Resilience?

Emotional resilience gives you the ability to work with difficult people and not have an adverse impact on your mental health or self-esteem. I have been told my entire life how sensitive I am and told I “need a thicker skin”. It’s taken me a long time to figure it out. It does tend to go with the territory of a creative person to be sensitive, but it doesn’t have to stop you from being happy despite negative people around you.

I’ve always been empathetic, and if someone cries in front of me, or there is an emotional part of an ad or TV show I tear up and sometimes even sob. A recent example of this is the end of 13 Reasons, which is about a 15-year-old girl who kills herself. Admittedly I have a 15-year-old daughter who looked like the actress. I have also already lost one child as a baby, so it had a few deep triggers. I was literally sobbing for an hour after the show and had to find Charlie to hug her. Even thinking about it is making me upset.

In the workplace in the past, I have struggled emotionally with unfair demands, unreasonable people, political work mates and have been the victim of bullying at work more than once. I’ve had to learn (and still am) coping skills in order to deal with working in the corporate world. There will always be bullies, demanding clients and people wanting something for nothing and devaluing my skills. I couldn’t take it all personally.

So what does it mean to get a thicker skin?

It’s not like putting on a warmer coat in the winter. Growing a thicker skin is about learning to be more resilient so that the actions and emotions of others don’t affect you at work or at home.Emotional resilience is a positive personality trait that is recognised in employees and managers. It refers to a person’s ability to cope with workplace demands, especially with change and changing goal posts coupled with a heavy workload. Resilience is our ability to bounce back.

Emotional resilience is a positive personality trait that is recognised in employees and managers. It refers to a person’s ability to cope with workplace demands, especially with change and changing goal posts coupled with a heavy workload. Resilience is our ability to bounce back.

This ability to bounce back is not a genetic quality that we are born with. It is an evolving active process. Anyone can learn the skills.

building resilience
building resilience

Top 10 Tips for Building Emotional Resilience

  1. Social Support and Friendships – cultivating and nurturing friendships and family can help build a cocoon of love.
  2. Face problems head on and treat the experience as a learning opportunity. Ask yourself, how could I have prevents this or how could I have approached this differently.
  3. Don’t create drama out of a crisis. How we act during and after a troubling event affects how we cope later.
  4. Acknowledge and congratulate yourself for your successes. Look for success in the work day, rather that failures or mistakes. If we focus on the successes the day is a lot rosier.
  5. Develop achievable goals for your life. It doesn’t have to be a massive change. Baby steps are good too. Everyone has their own path and their own process of progress.
  6. Be as positive as you can in the face of adversity. It might not fix the issue, but it can “lighten the load”.
  7. Treat yourself as you would treat somebody that you respect and love. Be your own best friend.
  8. Keep it in perspective. A simple error at work, say a printer printed something incorrectly, is not a catastrophe. It’s unfortunate, but mistakes happen. Remember, if no one got hurt, it’s not a disaster. Take a step back and look at the situation for what it is.
  9. Try to focus on the positive. It’s easy to be pulled down by negative people and it can cloud your view of work, but the fact that you have a job is something to be positive about.
  10. Don’t take on other people’s stress. It’s OK to want to help and to feel for someone in a predicament, but allowing their emotions to take over your own emotions is not just exhausting, it’s soul crushing. Let others take responsibility for their own emotions and establish clear boundaries between your own emotions and theirs. Step back and check yourself if you are feeling pressured or anxious for someone else. I have found that if you feel like you are going crazy around someone, you are probably taking on their perception and emotions. Take a mental step back, breathe deeply and hand them back their emotions in a bag (in your mind).

I’d love to hear from others who have developed resilience and how they did it, so please comment if you find this useful. 

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(1) Comment

  1. Anonymous says:

    great advice.

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